Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Its arrival in "early 2015" may seem rather far away, but we suspect a good number of 3DS owners are rather excited about the upcoming arrival of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. It's a much anticipated localisation, and as with the previous Western release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate it'll be the expanded and improved version that makes its way out of Japan.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate does incorporate some fresh ideas from those that have come before, with greater verticality in levels, new weapons and more. In an interview with Eurogamer, series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto has spoken about the upcoming release and his hopes for success in the West; initially he made clear how the role of the enthusiastic community for the series is vital in driving development ideas.

Game development is often about an output of the ideas we have into game form, and putting it out there into the world. But I also take input very seriously, and what it is you take in from the community in order to make the next game or the next iteration.

We have today a lot of community and fan events for the series. And in Japan in particular we have a lot on a regular basis. We go to these events and observe people playing the game and see how they're taking it in, and how they're playing the latest entry into the series. That direct feedback from the community is really important to me and the team.

We'll take the temperature of the current title as it's being received, and then directly feed that back into our process of what we want to do with the next title in the series. That kind of process and flow we have has been very useful for the series. Whenever we think about what we want to challenge next with the series that's always a key element in how we think about what direction we're going to take it in.

With the franchise now ten years old it's still seeking success outside of Japan to match up to that of its homeland. The release of a new entry in Japan can still prompt enormous interest, with Monster Hunter 4 continuing the trend; modest success in the West has helped establish a core community, and Tsujimoto-san hopes that the inclusion of online play in the upcoming 3DS release will help to grow the audience further.

Monster Hunter 4 has got online play for the first time in a portable entry in the series. That's going to mean we've got a whole new stage we can bring the community to. We have our community members now who love to meet up and play the game on local wireless. We hope they can be ambassadors for the title, so when we get more people into the next one and they want to play online, they've got a whole gang of people waiting there who know the game inside out. If they're newcomers to the series and not sure what to do, or they want to go on a quest but they don't want to go alone, if we can use our built-in community as a way for people who are new to say, don't worry, we're here and we'll give you a helping hand, then that's going to be a great way to expand the size of the community.

And then of course people who join that way, perhaps through online play as a first step, will then hopefully get involved in the game community itself and then they'll be motivated to come and join some of the meet ups and get involved in the whole community spirit. So, the online functionality will be a big step in the west in growing our community size even larger than it is today.

The Ultimate name naturally brought some to consider the dual release of 3 Ultimate on the Wii U and 3DS — the sequel is only confirmed for the portable, however. While acknowledging that the name Monster Hunter 4 U would have a charming ring to it, Tsujimoto-san made it clear that the team is only focused on the 3DS at this time.

Yeah, that title naming would be a lovely coincidence. That would be pretty sweet.

At the moment we're focused on 3DS, purely because with the previous title, the 3DS version couldn't go online on their own. There was a system to bring them online in conjunction with the Wii U console, but they were only local wireless play by themselves.

In 4 Ultimate, it will be online play just on the 3DS. We really want to see how having just a single platform online multiplayer game works out. So at this time we're focusing on the 3DS version. Monster Hunter 4 in Japan was also 3DS only.

Let us know what you think of Tsujimoto-san's comments. Do you think the online play, new features and the sizeable 3DS userbase will help Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to achieve major success in the West?